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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

GAMCOTRAP celebrates the 3rd Dropping of the Knife in the Gambia and the 1st ever in the Lower River Region

July 6, 2011
The Point

GAMCOTRAP has successfully completed a three year project in the Lower River Region of The Gambia in the campaign to eradicate FGM with constant support from ODAM, a Spanish NGO from Astruria. The outcome of the successful project implemented has resulted to Circumcisers in the region accepting to stop FGM and make a public declaration with their communities.

According to a press release from Gamcotrap, twenty (20) Circumcisers will be celebrated as the “Sheriones Against FGM” on Saturday, 9th July 2011 at Soma, LRR. This will be the third dropping of the Knife celebration organized by GAMCOTRAP since 2007.

In 2008, an Asturian based women’ rights organization, ODAM ONGD, focus on culture and development started partnership with GAMCOTRAP on a three year project titled “Training Information Campaign to Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation.”

Since 2009, over twenty (20) sensitization and advocacy activities have been undertaken under the project period 2009-2011 with support from the chiefs, Area Council, Office  of the Governor, women leaders, community based facilitators and the wider communities in Jarra and Kiang.

The project reached circumcisers and traditional birth attendants, community leaders (Chiefs, Alkalolu and Imams), women leaders, women of reproductive age and youths (male and female) and traditional communicators.

Apart from reaching out to communities in the region, institutions such as the Security and the Local Government Authorities from different Units in the region were also trained on gender based violence and the realization that FGM violates the rights of the child and the bodily integrity of women.

At the institutional level, Local government structures, Coalition of Institutions against FGM and Select Committees on health, and Women and Children also benefitted from the ODAM project.

Through a series of consultations with the Chiefs, women leader and the office of the Governor in the Lower River Region, and twenty Circumcisers from Jarra and Kiang have been trained over the years and their capacity built on Alternative Employment Opportunities in their communities where they can earn income rather than cutting girls in the name of tradition.

Over 1600 people have directly benefitted from the training programmes supported by the Oviedo Council and Axencia Asturiana de CooperaciĆ³n al Desarrollu (Asturian Agency of Cooperation for Development) through ODAM ONGD in Spain.  This has a multipier effect of reaching at least eight thousand (8,000) people indirectly in the region and has also reached the Spanish citizenship by means advocacy and awareness creation through different campaigns and media coverage.

The project has resulted into awareness about the effects FGM has on women, the rights of women and children, and the realization that culture is dynamic and changes overtime.  The project has also created the opportunity for participants from the six districts of Jarra and Kiang to realize that FGM is not an obligation on Muslim women but a mere traditional practice.  It has been realized that FGM has a negative impact on the sexual and reproductive health of women and they have come to consensus to stop the practice. The project period also created the opportunity for advocacy for a law against FGM.

Local community radio and reporters from different media houses have given full support to the project implementation and GAMCOTRAP would like to thank them for their contributions.

GAMCOTRAP would like to thank the Government of The Gambia for creating the enabling environment for reaching out to the people and empower them with information to make the right choices and decision.

“Also special thanks to UNFPA, Global Fund for Women and the American Embassy Women for Action Project whose support made it possible to reach out to some of the targets the ODAM project could not reach in the Lower River Region. Indeed, thank you ODAM ONGD and Partners in Spain for providing the support and to the people of the Lower River Region for accepting that Together We Can! Join us to celebrate yet another milestone in the protection of girls from FGM in The Gambia.”